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Gesell makes early, efficient impact in men’s hoops exhibition

BY TORK MASON | NOVEMBER 05, 2012 6:30 AM

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It didn’t take long for Mike Gesell to make his mark on the Iowa men’s basketball team.

The freshman led all scorers with 18 points in the Hawkeyes’ 100-54 exhibition victory over Division-II Quincy University (Ill.) on Sunday, despite playing just 19 minutes in the contest. He also chipped in 3 assists, 3 rebounds, and a pair of steals.

The keys to his output were being efficient and keeping calm in what head coach Fran McCaffery called a “scrambled” game.

“That’s just kind of who he is,” McCaffery said about Gesell. “He doesn’t rattle. He’s going to keep coming after you. He’s going to pressure the ball. I’m not surprised, he’s not surprised. I was thrilled with him.”

Gesell hit on 5 of his 8 shot attempts on the afternoon, including 3-for-5 from behind the arc. But he also had success with a pull-up jumper in the lane, something he said he uses to give himself an element many players don’t have.

“That’s one of my go-to shots, especially if I’m struggling,” he said. “You can’t always get into the lane, especially with those big guys in there now, in college … when the defense is giving you [the pull-up], you’ve got to take it.”

He avoided forced shots and took what was available to him on Sunday. He admitted he made a conscious effort to be patient.

“Especially in this game, I knew I’d be antsy,” he said and laughed. “I knew I had to just keep calm and not do anything too crazy.”

Gesell said Sunday was the first time he’d ever felt nervous before a game, but those butterflies disappeared once the ball went up at the opening tip. Sophomore Aaron White said he didn’t notice any jitters from the first-year point guard, or any of the freshmen, for that matter.

“The freshmen we have, I think they’re ready to make a big impact on this team,” White said. “That’s why they came here. They’re going to be on the floor and be ready for that challenge. So Mike and Adam [Woodbury] are really composed and really mature for how young they are.”

Gesell said he recognizes the responsibility he has as the point guard, and he’s ready to shoulder it despite playing off the ball for much of his AAU career. He just has to keep a level head and not be intimidated, he said.

“I’ve got to continue to be a leader out there,” he said. “Even though I’m a freshman, I’ve still got to be a leader from that point guard position.”

Gesell said part of being the leader his team needs is finding the right balance in what’s likely to become his offense.

“We definitely want to get the ball up the court,” he said. “But maybe we’re struggling or something and we need to slow it down and get a good shot later in the shot clock. I’ve got to know when to do both of those things and how to control the tempo.”


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